Shopping for a hot tub can be a daunting process and not what you may have expected when you signed on. There are over seventy hot tub and swim spa brands across the North America and each brand (or manufacturer) has a dealer network ranging from as few as three retailers to as many as four hundred retailers. Aside from the brand they carry, not all dealers are equal. In this article we will take some time to identify a good hot tub dealer / retailer.
There are three major considerations when evaluating a good dealer.
1. In-House Service & Warranty Work – Buying from a company that has in-house service and warranty work is a very critical piece of the ownership process. The reason being is that hot tubs have anywhere from a one year to a seven year parts and labor warranty on equipment. In essence, you have a long term relationship with the dealer for many years down the road after the initial purchase. To add to that hot tubs generally require up to one service call per year. Having a company that has their own service technicians and parts department is important because they have skin in the game and have to prioritize their own customers so that they uphold a good reputation versus a hot tub company that outsources their service to a third party repair company who typically doesn’t stock parts, have inconsistent dealings with manufacturers and therefore have longer lead times for getting authorization for parts and repair, and finally they don’t have any real sense or priority or urgency to take care of the customer because they never sold the hot tub in the first place. Buying from a dealer with in-house service and repair will lead to better customer service in most cases because they are familiar with the nuances of that brand, they stock parts, can follow thru on any promises made at the time of the sale, and have incentive to give great customer service because their reputation depends on it.
2. In-House Delivery – Buying from a company with in-house deliveries is less significant than the first item discussed above, however, we still feel it’s important. Mostly because deliveries can be challenging and also vary from house to house and many times promises are made and expectations are set during the purchasing process and if deliveries are outsourced to a third party then much of that gets lost in translation and disappointment and friction can arise. Furthermore, companies who offer in-house deliveries usually have a much more seamless delivery process because their crews are familiar with the products and can provide the right tutorials and orientations when the product is delivered. Third parties generally drop the product off and provide little information as they are less familiar with the nuances of each brand because they deliver so many different brands and models.
3. Customer Service & Tech Support – No matter what you’re told hot tub ownership requires some maintenance and comes with a learning curve on how to manage the water chemistry. Then there is the understanding of how to program the spa and operate the controls. Most of the learning and support comes in the first 6-12 months of hot tub ownership but none-the-less you need a company with trained staff that is available to walk you thru your issues and concerns. You may think that good customer service and support goes without saying but we’ve seen dealers who don’t even sell chemicals or might be a one man operation where the owner plays the role of a service tech, customer service person, and salesman.
Ultimately there needs to be a balance between a dealer who is lean (lower overhead) who can offer great product at a great price but also have the necessary infrastructure, adequate staff, and resources to provide good post-sales service and support. For more information on important considerations for purchasing new and used hot tubs then visit our hot tub buyer’s guide pages.